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Journal Article

"Psychic Surgery": Close Observation of a Popular Healing Practice

Philip Singer
Medical Anthropology Quarterly
New Series, Vol. 4, No. 4 (Dec., 1990), pp. 443-451
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/649226
Page Count: 9
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"Psychic Surgery": Close Observation of a Popular Healing Practice
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Abstract

Philippine "psychic surgeons" are reputed to "enter" the body barehandedly, remove blood, tissue, and/or organs, then "close" the body, leaving no wound. In this article I report on a relatively controlled demonstration of psychic surgery held at Oakland University in September 1986. Observers included a professional magician and a pathologist. Analysis of videotapes made during the proceedings shows how a persuasive sleight-of-hand performance was achieved. Furthermore, none of the tissue or blood specimens supposedly removed during the procedure matched those of subjects. I conclude by discussing some of the forces that have contributed to the popularization of these healers.

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